Andor Episode Twelve: Rix Road Thoughts
Maarva starts a Rebellion on Ferrix as season one of Andor comes to an end.
The season ended with a couple of great moments that built up to an underwhelming action sequence which laid bare a significant weakness of the series.
Return to Ferrix
I thought we would at least get some scene with Anto Kreegyr and the Imperial operation against him. However, “Rix Road” is all about Ferrix, and both the ISB and Luthen’s team underestimate the people of Ferrix and just how much damage they can do on their own. Cassian returns, but he has no influence on the events on Rix Road. He initially comes to witness his mother’s funeral; however, his mission quickly turns to free Bix, who is clinging onto coherency as she at least recognizes the importance of the day’s events.
The rest of the chaos that follows is thanks to Maarva. It is not clear, but Brasso knew what was in Maarva’s holo message that B2EMO played. And Cassian did not tell Wilmon to make a bomb in the wake of what happened to Salman (though the parallels between Cassian and the young man are hard to ignore). In the end, Maarva’s message from the dead lit the fire under Ferrix to fight back.
Initially, I believed Cassian foolish to come back to Ferrix. Even though Xanwan does not tell him that the place is crawling with ISB, he would have known from his last visit that Ferrix was no longer safe. But that was old Cassian. He has gone through a considerable amount since and has seen more inner workings of the Empire and how they use fear and the illusion of ubiquity to control people. He is no longer afraid of them; therefore, going to Ferrix no longer worries him.
And, despite the suffocating attention he has brought upon Ferrix, the community still takes care of Cassian. Pegla at the docking station helps him get into the tunnels under the ISB hotel. Brasso hugs him and promises he will take care of Maarva if Cassian takes care of himself. When Cassian arrives at the hotel to try and get Bix out, he runs into the cook, who tells him he is sorry about Maarva. Also, the town completely ignores the time given by the Empire and starts the funeral when they want, which foreshadows what is in store.
Even though Ferrix is not the most exciting location where a Star Wars series has taken place, the sense of culture is second only to Tatooine and the many towns and tribes that occupy that desert planet. And given that the writers, production designers, and actors have only had one season to establish, that is impressive.
I do hope to leave the planet behind for good. There are several reasonable indications that this show has also left Ferrix behind. For one, Maarva, the last familial connection for Cassian to Ferrix, is dead. Second, all the main characters in Ferrix, who Cassian would consider his found family, are now bound for another home: Bix, Basso, B2EMO, and Wilmon leave for a new life somewhere, and I am sure we will see them again. And third, most of the city (especially on Rix Road) is destroyed.
There are confirmed time jumps in season two, so the characters we met on Ferrix will be in a new location and probably be different people than the ones we left this season. Even though I expect neither Bix to heal entirely from her torture nor Wilmon from his trauma, I hope to see them on a path to healing and feel some sense of security in their new home.
The Illusion of Stakes
Aside from Maarva, every main character made it out alive this season, even ones we thought might not. How Brasso did not get shot by a blaster moving as slow as he was is impressive.
Brasso would have been the main pick to die in this episode; although Bix was not looking great, Adria Arjona is top billing in the show with an action figure, and today, that comes with security in not getting killed off.
Most of the casualties were random Imperials and minor characters on Ferrix. When Xanwan got a blaster in the back, the camera lingered on his dead face. He is supposed to be a character that viewers care about, and maybe many do; however, viewers have spent little time with him to earn that affection (about three small scenes across three episodes). The editing decision made me feel guilty for wanting to move on to the next scene, wondering why we were spending more time than necessary mourning this character.
And this is not to say that time with characters equals affection. There are characters that we have spent considerably more time with in Star Wars stories that still have minuscule development, and there are single scenes that can give a character all the depth and understanding of motivations. It comes down to writing, which has served the main characters well in this show and even a few minor characters (like Kino Loy) but has let down everyone else.
A Monologue in Perfect Context
I know most fans were all about Luthen’s monologue in “One Way Out,” but the entire thing felt superfluous in the scene’s context.
Jung asked Luthen, “what do you sacrifice?” and it turned into a therapy session. Beau Wilimon’s writing style felt very familiar to me, and the first thing that came to mind was Aaron Sorkin, who also cannot resist packing mini-thesis statements into monologues. Think of Lieutenant Sam Weinberg in A Few Good Men asking Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway why she likes Dawson and Downy so much, despite them killing a fellow marine. Her monologue scene is framed very similarly to Luthen’s, with no cuts. And it is excellent at the moment but doesn’t make complete sense in the story; just more of an acting showcase.
Or perhaps these are mini thesis statements on what the Rebellion is versus the romanticized version presented in the Original Trilogy. It still leads to repetition (Nemik’s manifesto says what has already been said and shown during the series). But Maarva’s speech, written by Tony Gilroy, to the people of Ferrix was not only earned, but I would argue the better and more meaningful monologue/thesis for the show.
“We’ve been sleeping. We’ve had each other, and Ferrix, our work, our days…We took their money and ignored them, we kept their engines turning and the moment they pulled away, we forgot them. Because we had each other. We had Ferrix. But we were sleeping.”
Andor Episode Twelve: Rix Road
The complacency Maarva discusses is how fascist regimes get a foothold in society. People get comfortable even as small parts of freedom are slowly being removed. For Ferrix, it has happened faster since Cassian left the planet in episode three. The Imperial reached too far and smothered the community too much, and they paid the price.
And Maarva might have saved her son’s life. Luthen seemed shaken by Maarva’s words, and we know that her speech is what he has been building towards with the attack on Aldhani. When Cassian gives him an ultimatum on his ship to either kill him or take him into the cause, Luthen smiles because he is going to take him. Cassian has nothing to lose: he is still wanted by the Empire and has caused two major headaches for them (under two different aliases). And he has no family left (we assume he is taking his late mother’s advice and is ceasing to look for his sister).
And Then There is Dedra and Syril…
Dedra, what little of her there was, got humbled this episode. First, while she was on Ferrix, the ISB agents at headquarters carried out a successful counter mission against Anto Keegyr.
Unfortunately, there are no survivors to question, highlighting how Dedra and her tactics are still ignored when she is not in the room. Even when Dedra is present, she has to make it clear that no snipers are used against Cassian. They still need him alive to try and get to Axis (it is never confirmed that Bix labels Kreegyr as the perceived central figurehead of the Rebellion).
How convenient for Dedra that Syril hero-worships her and saves her life when she is at serious risk of getting her comeuppance. I expected them to kiss for a second. Alas, the strange sexual tension continues as Dedra now owes Syril her life. And whatever comes with that, I am sure, will benefit Syril the most. If Dedra can get Syril a job within the ISB, he would be another ally, along with her assistant, Heert, and Major Partagaz.
Meanwhile, where Mosk stands is unclear as we last left him drinking on a Ferrix side street. I doubt Dedra’s courtesy for Syril will extend to him, and I do not think Syril will help either. And Alex Ferns is too good of an actor to wash away with this season.
Mon Mothma’s Endgame
Going back to allies in the ISB, Dedra’s former rival, Lieutenant Supervisor Blevin, is trying to get back in Partagaz’s good graces. And one way is through Mon Monthma’s driver. The Senator made him the first time we see Kloris as an informant. Here, we finally see her use that knowledge to her advantage. During a ride home from an event, Mothma asks Kloris for the privacy she knows he won’t afford her and accuses Perrin of gambling on Coruscant again. When Perrin vehemently denies this and asks who his accuser is, Mon Mothma avoids answering but clarifies to Kloris that he has done this before.
Kloris reports this to Blevin, who thinks this might explain the missing money in her accounting that Mothma referred to in “Daughter of Ferrix.” It might also be the first step in getting rid of her husband, whom she has been stuck with all these years. Speaking of arrangement, the family does introduce Leida to Davo Sculdun’s son, Stekan, which should lead to an engagement. So Mothma’s problems could be over as she continues to fund a growing Rebellion.
It would be great to see more of Mon Mothma outside of Senatorial politics in season two. She has yet to meet Cassian, which will come in season two, but she is far from the on-the-ground politician in Rogue One.
I’m guessing we will see more of Cinta now that Cassian will be taken into the fold. She is more like the Cassian from Rogue One and is, in my opinion, the most underutilized character this season. She is still defined mainly through her relationship with Vel. While the relationship is essential for representation, Cinta needs her own agency and development outside of that.
And that is a wrap on Andor season one. And it ended in a cliffhanger, somewhat. There is not much hope in this show, which I imagine is a turn-off for some Star Wars fans looking for pure Space Opera fantasy to escape. I also think that is what people might mean by calling the show not “Star Wars.” I will not revisit Andor season as often as other shows. But I appreciate the message and that the show leaned more on politics and fascist institutions than any other series in a pop culture franchise. Certainly not one on Disney Plus.
Originally published at https://creditsandcanon.com on November 27, 2022.